Your Guide to the British Social Season
The British social season, or ‘The Season’ as it’s often called, is a succession of historic annual events taking place from spring through to the end of summer, in London and its surrounding areas. This series of prestigious events all revel in a distinctly British experience. The arts, music, horticulture, sport and dedicated royal occasions all feature in the social season, offering a wonderful taste of tradition. It’s time to check your diary – these are the must-attend events you won’t want to miss.
Polo Season (May – September)
Polo is one the world’s oldest and most graceful sports, with players and fans from around the world flocking to England to enjoy the summer tournaments. The Cartier Queen’s Cup (May 22 – June 17) has been played at Guards Polo Club in Ascot since 1945 and is the highlight of the sport’s calendar, attracting the biggest names in the game, as well as high profile celebrities and royalty gathering to watch the final. Guards Polo Club also manages Coworth Park’s world-class polo grounds, making Coworth Park the only hotel in the UK with its own polo fields and practice facilities. A highlight of Coworth Park’s polo season is the Audi Polo Challenge Cup, with Prince Harry and Prince William both being regular players.
Tips from the team: ‘Do read up or watch online tutorials about the rules of polo before attending so that you know what’s going on.’ Ebe Sievwright – Manager and Head Coach at Guards Polo Academy
RHS Chelsea Flower Show (May 22 – 26)
Hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society, (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show is the pinnacle of the horticultural calendar, showcasing the best in innovative garden design as part of a charming five-day show. Visitors this year can enjoy a riot of creativity and colour over eight Show Gardens, nine Artisan Gardens, five Fresh Gardens, and more than 100 floral displays from the world’s best nurseries, growers and florists. At the show, visitors can also indulge in cocktails, champagne and a taste of The Dorchester. For the second year in a row, we are hosting a pop-up version of The Promenade serving an exclusive afternoon tea created in collaboration with The Dorchester’s head pastry chef, David Girard, and designer florist, Philip Hammond.
Tips from the team: ‘I’ve been going to this show for over 10 years and I am consistently astounded by the creativity. This year I am particularly keen to see Hay-Joung Hwang’s futuristic Eco-City Garden with LG Electronics and I am also excited about The Chelsea Late Event. This will be a vibrant evening on the Friday of the show, featuring live music, an artisan food market and the chance to enjoy the gardens by twilight.’ Philip Hammond – Designer Florist at The Dorchester
Trooping the Colour (June 9)
Trooping the Colour, also known as the Queen’s Birthday Parade, is a traditional ceremony held annually on Horse Guards Parade near St James’s Park. Full of military pomp and pageantry, the event celebrates HM The Queen’s official birthday (her real birthday is April 21) with an impressive display of marching manoeuvres by her personal troops, the Household Division. With over 1,400 officers and troops on parade, two hundred horses, and four hundred musicians, it truly is a sight to behold.
Tips from the team: ‘I took part in The Trooping of The Colour as one of The Household Division in 2001. It was an incredible experience, as I personally accompanied HM The Queen’s carriage. For watching the parade, my recommendation is to get there early to ensure you get a great view.’ Paul Pritchard – Head Butler at The Dorchester
Royal Ascot (June 19 – 23)
Taking place on Ascot Heath near Windsor, Royal Ascot is Britain’s most high-profile and widely attended race meeting, arguably heralding the peak of the social season. Being a five-day ‘Royal Meeting’, the horse racing is naturally of the highest standard but the event is renowned as a social event in its own right, with over 300,000 people attending each year. All visitors are dressed to impress and keen to catch a glimpse of HM The Queen, who has attended every Royal Meeting during her reign. The Royal Procession is a consistently iconic moment marking the start of each race day.
Tips from the team: ‘Whether indulging in one of our regenerative facials or our aptly named Hard as Hooves Gel Polish Manicure and Pedicure, make sure you look and feel your best for Royal Ascot by joining us at The Spa at Coworth Park for some relaxation and beauty treatment services.’ Ann Costelloe – Spa Manager at Coworth Park
Wimbledon (July 2 – 15)
The Championships, Wimbledon, are the highlight of the tennis calendar, hosted annually at the prestigious All England Lawn Tennis Club in London’s SW19. This two-week long tennis tournament is the oldest in the world and the only ‘Grand Slam’ to be played on grass courts. The event is synonymous with the British summer, strawberries, cream teas and Pimm’s. The games take place across 19 courts but the event is celebrated over London with plenty of big screens popping up in town centres for all to join in the fun.
Tips from the team: ‘If rain disrupts play, there is always the option of joining us in The Promenade at The Dorchester for our very own Wimbledon Afternoon Tea.’ Andrew Davies – Concierge at The Dorchester
Lord’s Test Matches (July and September)
Lord’s, often referred to as ‘The Home of Cricket’, is a ground in St John’s Wood, London, that’s hosted matches since 1814. The annual Test cricket matches attract keen fans of the sport as well as those simply seeking to enjoy the quintessentially English atmosphere. It also an opportunity to dress up (jackets and ties must be worn in the Pavilion, while smart casual attire can be worn in the Warner or Tavern stands). Purchasing tickets well in advance is strongly recommended.
Tips from the team: ‘Visiting Lord’s is as much about the day out as it is about the cricket, so it’s always nice to arrive early. You can bring your own food and wine but if you’re buying from one of the stalls it’s best to go just before the interval to avoid the queues. Don’t have tickets? You can always watch from our Media Room while dining on food from CUT at 45 Park Lane.’ Matteo Ramazzina– Head Sommelier at 45 Park Lane
Henley Royal Regatta (July 4 – 8)
The Henley Royal Regatta is an annual event, dating back to 1839, where hundreds of rowing crews from around the world compete in head-to-head knock out competitions. Hosted on the River Thames in the Oxfordshire town of Henley, more than 250 races take place over five days, making this one of the most famous regattas in the world. During the event the riverside is lined with a whole host of pop up restaurants, bars and shops.
Tips from the team: ‘Drones film the races and the action can be viewed live on YouTube, but it’s still nice to take a pair of binoculars for a closer view.’ Emmanuel Vidon – Sales Manager at The Dorchester
We hope this has inspired you to make the most of this year’s social season, and in true British style we trust the weather will be kind! If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in London or Ascot during these events you know where to find us. dorchestercollection.com